The Journey of Alfred Goldsteen's Family: From Promising Lives to the Holocaust
by George H. Goldsteen
Partridge Publishing Singapore

"Had the war lasted any longer, there is no doubt my mother, my sister, me, and others like us would also have been deported and murdered."

George Goldsteen never knew his father, Alfred. Alfred was arrested due to an order by the Nazis and their sympathizers and sent to a concentration camp when the author was two, just days before Alfred’s daughter would be born. Through World War II and the Holocaust, the author would lose about ninety-five family members. This memoir tracks his journey to find out what happened to his family and how his father was murdered.

Much of the information comes from journals written during that period and letters and interviews conducted afterward, mostly from Goldsteen’s mother and his uncle, Carl. They suffered terribly during that period, and everyone lost loved ones and friends. This is their narrative collected and presented by the author. In addition, there is historical information that helps explain the ordeal and describes some of the aftermath of the war. It also relates the victim’s attempts at finding details on their loved ones and compensation from those responsible for the atrocities.

Goldsteen’s family memoir is compelling and offers an intense look at the lives of those who suffered during the Holocaust. However, the largest portion of the narrative describes the lives of family members for thirty-five years before the Holocaust. Intriguingly, this is the section that stands out as truly unique and fascinating. The reader is given a detailed look at the families’ lives and businesses that they owned and ran. Seeing their personal and entrepreneurial freedoms taken away from them piece by piece before the war is a telling example of how Nazism took root through a series of steps. It is not only a personal story for the Goldsteen family, but it is also a historical narrative of paramount importance to all readers, as the lessons learned about nationalism and bigotry should never be forgotten and require constant vigilance. Overall, the narrative is well-written, although there are times readers can become confused due to the number of characters with similar names and the shifts in narrative focus. However, the letters and interviews included by the author do a good job of making the story both personal and affecting, and many readers will undoubtedly be moved by this recollection.

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